Tuesday, April 8, 2014

X-MEN: HELLFIRE CLUB #2 - February 2000

Toll the Bell Liberty
Credits:  Ben Raab (writer), Charlie Adlard (artist), Kevin Somers & Christie Scheele (colors), Jon Babcock (letters)

Summary:  Archangel tells Irene the story of his ancestor, Major-General Wallace Worthington, who married young Elizabeth Shaw, unaware that she was a pawn of the Hellfire Club.  When Elizabeth Shaw refused to turn over military secrets to Lady Grey, she ordered Worthington killed.  The Captain America of 1781 tried to save Worthington, but was too late.  As he leaves, Archangel informs Irene that the historian she was scheduled to meet was recently killed.

Continuity Notes:  The Hellfire Club’s Lady Grey is the spitting image of Jean Grey, from which we can infer that Jean gets her looks from her father’s side, I suppose.

Review:  Hmm…we know Archangel’s family has a history with the Hellfire Club, that goes back to their debut storyline, but learning of this “Lady Grey” who happens to look exactly like Jean, that’s perhaps a bit of a stretch.  I assume Raab is playing off the illusions created by Mastermind in the original “Dark Phoenix Saga,” which had Jean “reliving” the life of an ancestor that was associated with the Hellfire Club.  That ancestor was supposed to be an illusion created by Mastermind, though.  That’s always been my assumption, at least, and it would seem to be the only reasonable explanation that works within Mastermind's established power set.  Regardless, if the Club really is the venerable institution that Marvel has claimed it to be, I suppose it’s not entirely improbable that two X-Men with Northeastern roots could have ancestors in the Club.

Concerning the actual content of the story, it’s another solid issue.  Elizabeth Shaw’s quest for freedom is contrasted with the “freedom” represented by the Hellfire Club, which also gives Raab an opportunity to hint at what the real-life Hellfire Club was doing during this era.  (Hint:  Kinky things.)  Creating another member of the Shaw family that isn’t an obvious villain, one that’s actually quite sympathetic this issue, is also a smart play on Raab’s part.  While working in the Captain America of 1781 might initially seem like an awkward continuity implant, he naturally ties into the issue’s theme of freedom, and he fulfills the role of Wallace Worthington’s confidant quite well.  You can’t think Worthington is too bad a guy if he’s buddies with Captain America, after all.

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